What Makes a Good eLearning Course? eLearning Best Practices Explained
Last Updated on March 13, 2023 by Anneke Schmidt, PhD
In this digital age, eLearning has become integral to many learners’ lives. Online courses offer a flexible and convenient way to learn, allowing people to study at their own pace, in their own time, and from anywhere in the world. However, as a course creator, you know how difficult it can be to develop successful eLearning courses. So, what makes a good eLearning course? And what are the best practices that you should follow to ensure your courses are of the highest quality?
In this blog post, we’ll explore the characteristics of effective online courses to help you create learning events that engage and inspire your students just as much as they educate them.
What Makes eLearning Successful?
Whether you’re an individual course creator or part of a corporate eLearning team, the first question to ask yourself is, “What makes eLearning successful?”
An excellent eLearning platform does more than inform the learners. It creates an inspiring learning experience that engages and motivates them. The best eLearning experiences are those that challenge learners to achieve their goals, whether that’s acquiring new knowledge, developing new skills, or changing existing behavior. They may also use concepts to solve real-life problems and be critical thinkers in their corporate or individual sphere.
That is why it’s so essential to create eLearning courses that are not only informative but also interactive, engaging, and fun. Luckily, there are several ways to achieve this.
9 eLearning Best Practices To Implement Today
While there is no fit-for-all approach to delivering virtual courses, there are a few best practices that online learning should incorporate for the best outcomes. Below, we identify nine key aspects of successful e-learning.
#1 – Identify Clear Learning Objectives
The first step is to identify the primary goal of your course. This involves what your target audience will be able to do or understand after completing the course, which allows you to set learning objectives that are clear and specific.
SMART goals can help with this process by making sure your objectives are:
- Time Bound.
With clear objectives, you can more easily design assessments and activities that align with the course goals and meet the needs of your learners. Suppose you’re developing an SEO course with the specific intent to help your students increase organic traffic to 10,000 visitors per month. In that case, three objectives could be:
- Do proper keyword research
- Write two optimized blog posts every week
- Incorporate a social media strategy for more engagement.
#2 – Provide Intuitive Navigation
A successful e-learning course should offer an excellent user experience (UX). The students are there to master the learning content, not to see your technology expertise. Also, some of your learners are tech unsavvy. As such, if they cannot find a way to move from one lesson to another, their learning will be greatly hindered, and they can be demotivated.
Here are three ways of incorporating intuitive navigation in your online courses:
Minimalistic design. Use as few elements as possible on each screen and make them easy to identify. Think about the placement of each item on the screen. The goal is for the learner to focus on the learning content and not be distracted by the different elements.
Use hyperlinks sparingly. When you do use them, make sure they are visible and easy to find. If possible, use buttons instead of hyperlinks.
Include a clear table of contents. This can be in the form of a menu on the left-hand side or at the top of each screen. The table of contents should be easy to find and use so that learners can quickly jump to the section they want to review.
#3 – Invest in Top-Notch Visual Design
The instructional design you choose should incorporate visual elements to make the learning process more fun and motivating. However, you cannot substitute beauty for substance.
The eLearning design should help you deliver high-quality content in the most sound manner. To do this, consider the following:
Typefaces. Use fonts that are easy to read on all devices. Sans-serif fonts such as Arial, Tahoma, and Verdana are good choices.
Colors. Use a limited color palette and ensure the colors you choose create sufficient contrast so that the text is easy to read. When in doubt, black and white always works!
Images. Use images sparingly and make sure they are high quality and relevant to the learning content. Avoid using clip art as it can be distracting and difficult to read.
What you need to keep in mind are the learning outcomes your content aims to deliver and how best to package it to suit your learners’ needs.
#4 – Curate Expert Content and Resources
Since you want the learning content to help your audience develop the right skills, curating expert content and resources is paramount.
You want high-quality content that:
- Reflects your values and expertise
- Resonates with your learners, and
- Helps them develop the skills they need.
That’s why it is wise to invest in expert content services explicitly targeted at Education and Training providers. This will ensure your learning materials are not only informative, correct, and effective but also engaging, on-brand, and on-point.
Expert content increases your credibility, which is essential for boosting student confidence in your eLearning courses.
#5 – Use Scenario-based Learning and Storytelling
An eLearning course should achieve two essential skills: critical thinking and problem-solving. One possibility to develop such skills is to use scenario-based learning combined with storytelling.
Using a scenario-based approach means giving learners a real-life situation, expecting them to think critically about it and show how they would solve it. This is an excellent way to help learners understand the consequences of their actions and learn from potential mistakes in a safe environment.
Storytelling supports this approach by making the learning content more relatable and easier to remember. When you create online courses that tell a story, you engage learners’ emotions, which in turn leads to better learning outcomes.
#6 – Incorporate a Multi-Media Approach
When creating your course, you should share knowledge in ways that encourage learners to utilize all their sensory organs. For this, you can use text, images, audio, and video to appeal to as many of the five human senses as possible for an engaging eLearning opportunity.
You could also use infographics to present complex data in a simple and easily digestible manner. This can be particularly useful in data-driven industries such as Finance and Accounting.
The outcome of a multi-media eLearning approach is better student performance as more learners grasp the material. This is because your courses accommodate the students’ different learning styles as they weave in kinesthetic, auditory, and visual media elements.
#7 – Include Interactive Learning Elements
Attention span research shows that the average person’s attention span during lectures has decreased significantly. Therefore, it is crucial to make your eLearning course as engaging and interactive as possible.
Here are some helpful tips for creating personalized, interactive learning events:
- Use quizzes, polls, and surveys to assess learners’ understanding and give them immediate feedback.
- Include videos, infographics, and other multimedia content to break up the text and add visual interest.
- Encourage learners to actively participate in the learning process by asking questions, sharing their opinions, and completing exercises.
- Use simulations, games, and other hands-on activities to help learners apply new knowledge.
By incorporating interactive learning elements, you can create a more engaging and memorable learning experience for your audience.
#8 – Offer Recap Opportunities
Repetition is key to learning as it helps with knowledge retention. As you provide multiple recap options, users can build connections between one subject to the next. This helps them grasp the concepts better, which creates better learning outcomes.
You should, therefore, design your training in a learner-centered approach that ensures various recap opportunities. For example, you can:
- End each section with a quick overview of the most critical points.
- Include a summary at the end of each lesson.
- Allow learners to revise the material as often as they like.
- Encourage them to take notes and refer back to them later.
- Provide additional resources for further reading.
These techniques help your students retain the information and improve their understanding of the subject matter.
#9 – Build a Constructive Feedback Culture
A constructive feedback culture should be at the center of your course development as it helps you understand your learners’ needs and design a learning experience that meets their requirements.
Always be specific about what kind of information you are looking for when asking for feedback. This practice will help you get more accurate and valuable feedback from your users. Additionally, make sure to request feedback promptly and consider it during the course development process.
Finally, don’t forget to send your students an end-of-course evaluation survey where they can provide detailed feedback about their overall learning experience. This valuable information will help you fine-tune your course and make sure it meets the needs of your learners.
The Bottom Line
Creating a high-quality eLearning course is not an easy task. It requires careful planning, design, and development. However, by following the tips in this blog post, you can create a successful online course that is learner-centered, engaging, and interactive and thus meets the needs of your audience.
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